We returned to Bali. We love being in Ubud where Barry is particularly disciplined, so we both got lots of exercise, ate good food, and enjoyed the music and the people. Barry left on November 20; I was to leave on November 23. My scheduled departure was on the last night before flights started to be cancelled because the Bali volcano, Mt. Agung, actually was erupting. I was lucky about getting out, but my last day in Ubud was intense.
On that final morning, I was on my way to my Pilates class in Penestanan, just outside Ubud. I was peddling hard uphill. Motorbikes zoomed past me. I saw a brown and tan Bali dog at the side of the road. Bali dogs are everywhere. They are smart, good watch dogs, usually friendly; most are let loose to roam in the daytime.
This one came at me from behind and nipped my calf through my thin Bali pants. I screamed. He ran off.
I think he was just playing. At first, I thought I was okay because it hadn’t really hurt. I was more indignant that a dog would bite me since I like dogs and am not afraid of them. But when I stopped to look, I saw that he had broken the skin on my calf – two little puncture holes – and a bit of blood! 😦
And that is an issue – a Big issue – since rabies is a problem in Bali.
“Bali was rabies free until an infected dog arrived on a fishing boat in 2008. Since then, over 150 people have died [on just that island] and many thousands of dogs have been killed in the attempt to eradicate the disease.”
This year when we returned to Ubud and stayed at the same guesthouse, Adelle was missing. We asked about her. Sadly, she is probably one of the many thousands of Bali Dogs picked up off the streets and killed in the attempt to rid Bali of rabies. Many studies show that mass culling of animals is not effective; vaccinating them is. We miss her. 😦
“The virus is still present in parts of Bali and is proving very difficult to eradicate completely due to the long incubation period of the disease. . .[which] in both humans and animals can range widely from two weeks up to several years (average 2-3 months), with the incubation period being shorter the nearer the entry point is to the central nervous system. Therefore a bite to the face or neck has a much shorter incubation period than a bite to the foot. Once the virus has reached the brain, it spreads to other sites such as the salivary glands” (8).
The Mayo Clinic notes, “Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.. . .The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include: fever, headache, nausea, agitation, anxiety, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia, hallucinations, insomnia, partial paralysis.
Local Bali drivers sitting near their cars had seen that I had been bitten. They said I definitely should get the rabies vaccinations. At the Pilates class, some classmates said I should get the vaccinations; others said the dog probably wasn’t rabid and not to bother with the shots. One expat showed me a photo of her friend’s bite that was much worse than the little one I’d gotten. That bitten woman hadn’t gotten shots, and hadn’t (at least not yet) gotten rabies. The problem is that once you get the rabies symptoms, there is nothing that can be done: you die – a really painful, gruesome death. So should I take a chance?
After class, I peddled to the local clinic that I passed by every day on my way to and from class to check what I should do. As recommended, I scrubbed the wound with warm, sudsy water for 15 minutes, which is important to do for any puncture wound especially in the tropics. The clinic technician said I definitely should get the shots since the dog had run away and so couldn’t be quarantined for 10 days to see if it did indeed have rabies. But I would need about $100 U.S. to pay for the two vaccines I should get before flying out that night. They only took cash.
After some confusion and much stress (and a long hour of peddling around, up and down hills, trying to get money at an ATM machine that would work – and my stomach cramping and me shaking – so I knew I had rabies and would die, I finally got the needed cash. I returned to the Bali clinic.
The clinic is clean, and the clinician efficient and knowledgeable, and like most local people in this tourist packed town, his English is good. He gave me an almost painless shot in each arm, the paperwork I’d need to get reimbursed from my health insurance, and printed instructions about when I should get the two remaining shots. I’m very happy to report that the anti-rabies vaccines are no longer the extremely painful ones given in the stomach.
I would just need to get two more when I got home to Maui at recommended times over the next month – and how hard could that be?
I came back more or less directly if you count a 13-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur and two other layovers (we go for the cheapest tickets) although not nearly so long in Osaka and Honolulu as directly. Exposure to camels was the only thing U.S. quarantine was concerned about when I came through customs, and I could honestly answer that I’d had no problems with camels.
Barry and I are home, and it is good to be back.
Then I just needed to get two more rabies vaccinations at the recommended times. I was back in “medically advanced” U.S.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Rabies is a very serious disease caused by a virus in all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. On the U.S. mainland, wild animals that are most often associated with rabies include skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats. Human rabies is rare in the United States however; worldwide 65,000 to 87,000 deaths occur annually due to rabies primarily in Asia and Africa where prompt medical attention and preventive vaccinations are not readily available. Dogs are the most common source of infection of humans. . .
Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Twenty-three cases of human rabies have been reported in the United States in the past decade (2008-2017). Eight of these were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories.”
I landed on Maui on a Friday night. I called my doctor as soon as the office opened the following morning and explained I had been bitten in Bali and needed two more shots. The next one (it didn’t matter the brand) was to be given the following Wednesday.
“No problem,” I was told and given an appointment for that Wednesday. On Tuesday, my doctor’s office called to confirm. On Wednesday, I arrived a few minutes early and was shown into the doctor’s examining room. It turns out there was a problem. They didn’t have the vaccine. What!
I was then told:
1) insurance wouldn’t cover my shots – cost compared to Bali at U.S. $50. each would be $400 each (which says something about our for-profit pharmaceutical industry here in the U.S. -)
2) no rabies vaccinations were on the island, and
3) only one Maui pharmacy had the contract to procure the rabies vaccination.
I was told that I probably didn’t have rabies. And the basis for that? And if the doctor were wrong? I was suddenly a bit worried.
I looked up “YouTube video of people with rabies.” You do not want to see those images; you definitely don’t want any being to get rabies. That video terrified me.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that my doctor and the “designated rabies vaccine” pharmacy were rather clueless. In our whole state of Hawaii, there has never been a case of rabies acquired here in humans or animals!
Friday morning, two days after I should have had my third shot, (and six days after I’d notified my doctor’s office that I needed the vaccines) I still hadn’t gotten the vaccine. That morning the “designated pharmacy” told me I should fly to the U.S. Mainland to get the last two shots. What!! We get over five million people flying into Maui every year; we have FedX, UPS, U.S. Postal Service. They had had almost a week to get the vaccine here. I was feeling rabid!
Barry said, “Okay – this is ridiculous; we are going to the doctor’s office.” Things didn’t go well there. I ended up yelling at the smirking nurse (who was to explain to the office manager what my doctor had done – or in this case, not done- to get me the vaccine). Then stomping out of the office, I screamed: “You are incompetent and unprofessional!!!” Barry, being more mature, stayed behind and made the point that he had been a patient of this doctor’s office for 30 years and that my situation was one of potential death for me.
Were there any heroes?
- Wailea Pharmacy. Since it seemed I would get no medical help on Maui, Barry and I drove over to Wailea Pharmacy that Friday morning to see if Shelly, our friend and the pharmacy co-owner, had any ideas. She didn’t have the vaccine in stock, but she could get it. She was very reassuring. While we were talking, my doctor’s office called to say they had located the vaccine on island; we would just need to drive into town and bring the vaccine back to be administered that afternoon. So my doctor’s office finally had done something! And why was that? Was it because of my screaming behavior that Friday morning? Was it because Barry had appealed to their medical mission?
- ****Maui Clinic Pharmacy in Kahului!!! This pharmacy keeps the rabies vaccine in stock! Not only that, the cost to me because I have insurance was $30, not the $400 a shot that I’d been told. For the fourth shot, I just went to the Maui Clinic Pharmacy. The very competent, nice, and knowledgeable pharmacist chatted with me and gave me an almost painless shot.
What have I learned from this experience:
- Dogs can bite even if I’m not afraid of them. I need to be more cautious.
- I should always have easy access to money.
- Because it’s a condition we don’t have on Maui, the medical people here in general don’t know what to do about rabies. I should be grateful that rabies isn’t an issue here.
- In Bali, medical people know exactly what to do for dog bites,
- And this is sad – – maybe yelling does work.
No one has to worry about me biting them now – but I had felt like I might need to start biting a few people to get some help.
Although my bite didn’t become infected or leave a scar — and I’m not going to get rabies — on this same trip, I did get a scar from a moped carburetor burn, but that’s another story. Sometimes, traveling can be interesting in ways you don’t expect.
This Bali Dog was named Mandi. She looks much like the dog that bit me – but she was a sweet dog, a victim of poisoning – an effort by some Bali neighbors to rid their community of dogs. Go to the above link to know more about how some people are helping (and some are hurting) Bali Dogs.
You may or may not know:
- Indonesia comprises 17,508-18,306 islands! It’s the world’s largest archipelagic state.
- Of those numerous islands, 8,844 are named and 922 are inhabited with a population of over 261.1 million.
You probably know that tourists come to Indonesia for nature:
- To see jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers, to visit rich marine biodiversity, and postcard perfect islands. Komodo National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, home of the infamous Komodo dragon, is one example of the beauty you’ll find in Indonesia.
- To enjoy nature on land and in the water;
- To see wildlife such as – the Komodo Dragons – the world’s largest lizard: 10 feet (3 meters), 300 pounds (136 kilos) with a venomous bite. They are facing extinction. Do not get close to them. They hunt in packs! One of the speakers at the 2017 Ubud Writers and Readers’ Festival described being confronted by a huge Komodo Dragon – while two others circled behind him!!! Yikes. A Komodo Park Ranger came to his rescue with a long pointed stick to poke between the Komodo’s eyes so they would run away. Enjoy looking for the animals, but do not wander off by yourself.
- To surf;
- To experience cultures richly different from our own;
- To see the beauty of nature;
- To experience vibrant cities such as Jakarta;
- Jakarta images from <https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-jakarta-city-skyline-image9548188>
- To experience the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry;
- To see smoking volcanoes. Indonesia has 76 volcanoes that have erupted in historical times; it has more active volcanoes than any other country. Some are among the world’s most famous volcanoes: Krakatau (Krakatoa), Tambora, and Merapi. Right now, Mt. Agung on Bali is threatening to erupt; thousands of Balinese have been evacuated since the end of September 2017.
You may not know that in Indonesia:
- On these thousands of volcanic islands live over 300 hundred ethnic groups (with over 300 native languages-including Batak, Minangkabau, Krui, and Pelalawan).
- The Javanese are 40% of the total population and are concentrated on the island of Java.
- The Indonesian archipelago was inhabited at least 1.5 million years ago: “Java Man” – his fossilized remains and tools were found here,
- Around 2000 BCE, Austronesian people arrived in Indonesia and are the ancestors of the modern population,
- From the late 13th century, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom flourished, its influence stretching over much of Indonesia.
- The 13th century in northern Sumatra have the earliest evidence of Islamic populations in Indonesia,
- 2017 is the 350th anniversary of the Dutch West Indies control of Indonesia. Part of that gaining control is because in 1602, the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan (New York city today!) for the small Banda Islands (the Spice Islands). The Dutch then had a monopoly on spices such as nutmeg, which financed the Dutch empire.
- However, because the Dutch were providing arms for the American Revolutionaries, the British blockaded the spice trade ships for two years causing the company to go bankrupt and the weakening of Dutch colonization.
- Until the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942, the Dutch controlled the islands.
- Recently, a Dutch man we met on vacation here in Bali said he was proud of the Dutch colonization for two reasons:
- 1) In 1859, the Dutch outlawed suttee, the Hindu practice of a widow (not widower) having to throw herself on top of the funeral pyre when her husband died (so they would be together in the next reincarnation);
- 2) The Dutch stopped women going topless – in this hot, humid climate.
- “Oh well,” says Barry, “governments can’t get it right all the time.” 🙂
- 3) The Dutch also outlawed slavery. But today, Indonesia ranks #39 out of 167 countries in the slavery index https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/indonesia/
Other Indonesian history, you may or may not, know:
- Japan invaded and held Indonesia from March 1942-1945. The Japanese trained young Indonesian soldiers – who after the war were able to gain freedom for their own country.
- Another not often recognized component of Indonesia history involves dock workers in Australia where the Dutch ships where harbored waiting to re-take Indonesia at the end of WWII. Using Gandhi’s concepts, these lowly paid workers understood that their Indonesian brothers and sisters would again be colonized if the dock workers helped the ships leave the Australian harbor. In a show of solidarity, over 4,000 Australian waterfront workers joined Indonesian crew members in a strike and refused to load Dutch ships carrying arms and supplies. http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3414771.htm
- Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific. Soekarno (also spelled Sukarno) became president from 1945-1967. Sukarno established “Guided Democracy” an autocratic system in 1957 that successfully ended the instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the diverse and fractious country. The early 1960s, Sukarno veered Indonesia to the left by providing support and protection to the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). As a result, the military and Islamists overthrew him; Sukarno remained under house arrest until his death. In 1967, Sukarno was replaced by Suharto, one of his generals.
- Sukarno image from: <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Soekarno.jpg
- In reaction to an attempted coup on 30 September 1965 – allegedly backed by the Indonesian Communist Party, Muhammad Suharto led an anti-communist purge, which the CIA has described as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
- Those mass murders of their own countrymen started in Jakarta, the capital, and spread to Central and East Java and later Bali. Thousands of local vigilantes and army units killed actual and alleged PKI – Communist party members. Recent estimates say as high as two to three million people were killed. The U.S. was complicit in the murders by providing extensive lists of communist party officials to Indonesian death squads. From: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_mass_killings_of_1965%E2%80%931966>.
- Suharto served as president for the following 31 years! Support for Suharto’s presidency was strong (for his anti-Communist stance) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but by the 1990s, his authoritarianism and the widespread corruption of his government plus a severe financial crisis led to unrest, and he resigned in May 1998.
- Currently, Joko Widodo is the 7th president of Indonesia. In 2014, he was elected to a five-year term with 53% of the vote. He is the first Indonesian president not to have come from the political elite or to have been an army general. Jokowi’s domestic policy has focused on infrastructure development, cuts in fuel subsidies, and a tax amnesty program. Widodo emphasizes “protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty” by sinking illegal foreign fishing vessels and executing drug smugglers, despite foreign criticisms. Information from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_Indonesia>
- Warnings to tourists:
- Do not bring drugs of any kind into Indonesia; do not arrange to have drugs of any kind brought in; do not take drugs in Indonesia — or you may spend 10 miserable years in an Indonesian jail and then be executed.
- Despite global pleas to spare the men, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the “Bali Nine” – and six others: four Nigerians, a schizophrenic Brazilian, and an Indonesian – were executed on April 29, 2015, shortly after midnight by an Indonesian firing squad. See: https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/?s=Execution+
- Ironically, Indonesia has shown compassion for its citizens involved in the 2002 and 2005 Bali Bombings that left many seriously injured and 222 dead, including 92 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 27 Brits, 7 Americans, 6 Swedes and 3 Danes. All 36 Indonesian terrorists who were sentenced to anything less than life for their parts in the 2002 and 2005 bar and restaurant attacks are now free.
- Make sure you have an appropriate Indonesian Visa. The November 6-21, 2017 issue of The Bali Advertiser notes, “An Italian tourist, Carmine Sciaudone, has just been released from jail in Bali and has gone home after more than a year of incarceration. He had helped fix a projector on a locally operated party boat because it wasn’t working (no surprise there), and he knew how to fix it. That’s work, you see, if the authorities choose to decide that it is. And you can’t “work” on a tourist visa” (p. 27).
- “Indonesians say, ‘When you report a missing chicken to the police, you lose a goat.’ If you offer a bribe and don’t know if it will be accepted or if it is the correct amount needed, say it is a gift for their children. Be aware that the law favors Indonesians who overwhelmingly win legal battles against foreigners. Indonesia’s anti-graft body KPK reports that 40% of state regional budgets are lost as a result of corruption (Bali Advertiser, Nov. 6-21, 2017, p. 4).
- Indonesia’s constitution insures religious freedom. But in 2005 the wording was changed from “religious freedom” to “religious harmony.” Minorities are to respect the majority religion, and the majority religion is to protect minorities. An immediate result was that 1,056 churches in Indonesia were closed. People here I’ve heard say, “At least for now, we can still talk.”
- In a 2014 Christmas Day speech in Aceh, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla claimed Indonesia is the most tolerant Muslim-majority in the world and long considered a relatively moderate Muslim state. The Indonesian Constitution provides for freedom of religion. However, in a 2012 cross-national Pew study on religious restrictions, Indonesia was actually one of five (out of 49 Muslim-majority countries to rank “very high” in government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion. The other four countries were Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – hardly good company in this respect, according to The Diplomat <https://thediplomat.com/2014/12/is-indonesia-really-the-worlds-most-tolerant-muslim-country/
- Another very troubling indication of religious intolerance in Indonesia is that the popular “double-minority” (Chinese/Christian) first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta was found guilty on May 9, 2017 for blasphemy against the Quran under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code. The charges were filed after Ahok was accused of insulting Islam in remarks that were edited out of context and put on FB, which resulted in religious riots against him. Ahok’s verdict is a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.
Ahok was found guilty on May 9, 2017 and is now in jail serving a two-year term. His appeal has been stopped. The person who sent out the edited “news” is now being tried – but Ahok is still in jail. The verdict approved by the most conservative of the Islamists is based on their rules (not the laws of the nation) that 1) Non-Muslims are not allowed to interpret the Quaran and 2) Muslims are not to be led by non-Muslims. The two-year prison sentence was a surprise outcome after prosecutors had recommended two years of probation.
- Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”. . . “Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” (<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/09/jakarta-governor-ahok-found-guilty-of-blasphemy-jailed-for-two-years>).
President Joko has banned Hizbut Tahrir, the sect behind the demonstrations against Ahok, as part of a broader effort to rein in the hard-line Islamist forces opposed to his administration before presidential elections in 2019. Because of the aggressive moves by Mr. Joko’s administration, many of the Islamist leaders who led the campaign against Ahok are in exile or prison. Hizbut Tahrir believes that all Muslims should unite in a world-wide caliphate – a global political order – in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities. From: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/world/asia/indonesia-hard-line-islamist-ban.html
- The religious makeup of Indonesia according to the 2010 Indonesian census, includes:
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- 6.96% Protestant,
- 2.91% Catholic,
- 1.69% Hindu,
- 0.72% Buddhist,
- 0.05% Confucianism,
- 0.13% other, and
- 0.38% unstated or not asked.
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- Another complication in this huge country is that millions of Javanese (mainly traditional Islamists) have migrated to other islands throughout the archipelago because of the Transmigration Program, an initiative started by the Dutch colonial government and continued by the Indonesian government until President Joko Widodo ended the practice in 2015. “The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java (and some other islands), to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to access the natural resource of other islands such as Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The program has resulted in separatist movements and increased communal violence.
- According to Philip M. Fearnside from the Department of Ecology National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA), “The Transmigration Program has been labeled as ‘’the World Bank’s most irresponsible project’ by Survival International (1985); multilateral bank financing of this program has long been a focus of criticism because of its impact on deforestation and human rights. In 1986, transmigration was singled out by a consortium of 14 environmental groups as one of the ‘‘Fatal Five’’—the five projects chosen as illustrations of inadequate environmental safe guards in World Bank lending procedures, the others being the Polonoroeste Project in Brazil, the Three Gorges Dam in China, the Narmada Dams in India, and the Livestock III project in Botswana (TFAGC 1986, Schwartzman 1986).
As for us, Barry and I are here in Ubud, Bali, where many tourists visit – at least those who are not on the Bali beaches of Kuta or Sanur or climbing Mt. Batur. In the past 17 years, we’ve stayed in Ubud five times.
We love the Balinese friendliness, their rich Balinese/Hindu culture that believes in karma and recognizes spirits everywhere, and the beautiful art that almost all Balinese practice, be it dance, music, painting, or carving. Until the 1930s, Bali could be considered the richest country in the world since there was little difference between the richest and poorest families. All could work about four months a year to sustain themselves. The rest of the time they devoted to their arts, their temple, their family.
Then the Balinese started importing tin roofs to replace the thatched roofs that they made together with their neighbors – and lasted about 15 years. Next, they started importing cars and had to go to a money system. Today, many Balinese hire Javanese migrants to work in the rice fields while the Balinese work in the tourist industry as drivers, or restaurant or hotel workers. They still have a rich family and religious and community life. We love the warm weather, the vibrant vegetation, the art that is every where, the friendly people, and the economical prices too.
This visit in Ubud from the end of September to the end of October, 2017, we could enjoy the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival: http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/2017-program/;
The Bali Vegan Festival: http://www.baliveganfestival.com/
The Bali Film Festival: http://www.balinale.com/
Ubud has yoga of all kinds, great restaurants, and music every night.
April brings the Bali Spirit Festival – yoga, dance, & music <http://www.balispiritfestival.com/
But there is much more to the complex country of Indonesia than this tiny little part that we love.
Come visit Indonesia. There is much to discover.
Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée